Parents Support Champions Project

The TUSLA Parenting Support Strategy, within Prevention Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) is the first national parenting support strategy for child and family services in Ireland.  The Parenting Support Champions (PSC) Project is an initiative to bring together practitioners who are already involved with parenting and family support. The project has the aim of promoting and supporting parenting and the implementation of the Parenting Support Strategy within TUSLA and partner agencies and organisations.  The Parenting Support Champions project has a current lifespan of 3 years – from 2015 to 2018. The programme of work is being funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Evaluation of the Programme is being carried out by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.

Your Parenting Support Champions in Co Donegal are as follows:

  1. Nicola Harvey – Prevention Partnership and Family Support TUSLA
  2. Patricia Lee – ParentStop CLG
  3. Mary Walker Callaghan – Lifestart Services CLG
  4. Katie McShane – TirBogaineTeo
  5. Garry Glennon LYFS shared
  6. Donna Butler Strengthening Families Programme & Families Matter

All of us are partners on the Parent Hub Donegal which is a collaborative and innovative approach to supporting all things parenting.

The focus – This initiative brings together practitioners who are already involved with parenting and family support. The project has the aim of promoting and supporting parenting, raising awareness of the TUSLA key parenting messages and the implementation of the Parenting Support Strategy within TUSLA and partner agencies and organisations.

The Role – The role of the Parenting Support Champion can be explained by 1 line – Empathise, Energise and Empower; 7 words  – Promoting and sharing parenting information and supports;  and 18 pages – Parenting Support Champion Project Outline.  The role includes promotion of parenting, family well being and TUSLA’s Parenting Support Strategy, within their area – both geographic and professional.

Progress to date – In early 2016, as part of the implementation of the Parenting Support Strategy[1], volunteers were sought by TUSLA to become Parenting Support Champions in their area. Applications were submitted by Easter and in all 39 were selected for the west and 104 across Ireland. All come from a parenting and family support focus through TUSLA, HSE and partner organisations. To date there has been induction training in June/July and again training on key messages in October 2016 and a national seminar in December 2016. There has also been training in March 2017 on Attachment in the context of Empathise, Energise and Empower, and was facilitated by Dr. Una Lynch and was delivered in four regional areas. The training covered:

  • Empathy and attachment
  • Infant mental health & wellbeing
  • Parenting and attachment
  • Overcoming challenges to attachment
  • PSC empowering & energizing parents

Throughout 2017 two regional learning groups have met and a national conference has been held. This initiative was presented and well received at the TUSLA Conference “Valuing our Parenting Support” 25th May 2017 in Dublin Castle. These gatherings provide an opportunity to:-

  • Learn through peer engagement, awareness raising and networking
  • Build capacity and develop the skills of individual members and local, regional and national groups to disseminate key messages on parenting
  • Share and promote resources and information relevant to parenting
  • Facilitate meaningful engagement with parents through parental participation initiatives, including parenting learning communities.
  • Identify areas of progress and need for changes through reflective practices
  • Recognise best practice in parenting support, sharing it and modelling it with reference to existing guidance documents including:- Parent Support Strategy, Parenting 24/7, What Works in Family Support and 50 Key Messages.

This is a new and innovative project developed here in the Irish context based on the power of positive relationships and partnership working. The potential of the Parenting Support Champions project is that:

  • Parenting support services and organisation are collaborating and connecting
  • Parenting support approaches are shared at regional and national learning communities
  • Parents will be informed of key parenting messages and know how to access and share these messages easily
  • Parents are aware of parenting supports in their areas and feel empowered through participation and engagement with these services
  • Children are receiving the best possible support from those in a parenting role
  • Children have an increased sense of connection, belonging, and participation within their communities, while remaining safe and protected from harm.

If you would like to find out more about the Parent Support Champions project here is a link to the newsletter:-

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        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4 Volume 5 Volume 6

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

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